As many of you have noticed, the Introvert finally dropped. I've mostly kept my mouth shut about the design, as loose lips sink ships, but now that it's out there, I'd like to share some commentary about it because I think that it will likely be initially misunderstood. I've had one for a while now, and it is my EDC. It has been for a few months, and is among my favorite knives. Bias, right...
First, the knife was something I designed for myself. I'm not in this for sales. I asked myself what my perfect Spyderco would be, and what it would do. It would have to be FMA friendly, climbing friendly (carabiner clippable - ideally locked shut when carabiner clipped as well, and rope-cutting-friendly), and EDC friendly for diverse working environments. I wanted it to conform to most knife law so that I can take it to reasonable places. It was a long process of coming to what exactly I wanted. The first thing I tried was a liner lock version that got rejected after consideration. I didn't do this to sell knives, I did it to have the knife that I wanted, and have it made by the company whose knives I love most, so I kept poking at the design. I'm still working on stuff - CQI and all.
The knife is born and bred of Spyderco. My Spyderpac, and drawers full of old models and sprints are my studies in making a good knife. My conversations with Ed Schempp, Eric, and Sal were priceless in understanding how to distill design. I borrowed and distilled ergonomic considerations from all of their knives. Spyderwa also showed me a library that opened my eyes. My maker's mark on the knife is my initials as an alchemical symbol for distillation because I see the knife as a distillation of the Swick and Caly principally, with the Rock Salt having great influence on angling the blade to anchor into the bones and muscles of the forearm. The Poliwog is also a big influence on the knife. The Poliwog really set a new standard for what a knife is in my world. I don't think I'd have gone off the reservation lockwise had it not been for the Poliwog.
It is hard to get a lot of features into a small package, especially a folding one. Some generalities of knives just work and tickle my personal fancy. For instance, I like the Caly pinch point wherever I find it. I like flippers, like Brad Southard's, that organize the knife such that the finish of the flipping motion moves the finger naturally toward the choil. I like ambidexterity, and back locks. I like Ed's blade angles. I like belly on blades, and I like to customize by grinding belly off of blades to get wharnies. I like to leave meat for hot-rodders. I'm going to be drilling a bunch of holes in mine. I honestly can't wait to see what other people do. I'm going to get a kick out of what happens when people open it up and see what's going on when they hot-rod it out. It's just on a few more planes than the usual folding knife... It's called the Introvert because the definition of the verb "introvert" is to turn inward or in upon itself - which the knife must do to have its features.
The knife is designed with the martial arts and martial artists in mind. If you were to learn one move in FMA, it would likely be the crossada - you can easily find videos by looking at Michael Janich's MBC. Ed's knives naturally place the blade at an excellent angle for doing a strong crossada without having to angle the wrist heavily to feed the cut. Further, such an angle in earth grip allows for punch-like crossada actions to be taken. The ergonomics of feeding the cut (in heaven grip) with maximum power have been repeatedly shown in cutting competition. Earth grip feeds cuts nicely as well. Ed doesn't angle his knives like that because of coincidence, and I didn't adopt it from coincidence either. I *unabashedly* lifted it straight from a heavy hitter in excellent, functional, ergonomic design. Thanks Ed for mixing hobby, art, and science with sharing; and you know I've already thanked you in person.
The Introvert is rather unique in that in earth grip, the thumb ramp makes a proxy hook-type device between the wrist and the ramp. A common followup to a crossada is to draw the back of the knife over the wrist and draw the wrist to one's hip to position for an armbar or throw. The thumb ramp of the Introvert facilitates this use of the knife, but also positions the blade in such a fashion as to be unlikely to stab the hip of the user as he draws his opponent's arm in for the bar or throw. Any of you who have done this drill will know exactly what I'm talking about. Of course, the flipper can be deployed by the pinky - I like to do this one - and in the grip, the butt of the handle makes a very nice pressure enhancement tool. I personally like this grip, as I spend lots of time on the speedbags.
Closed, the thumb may be placed in the ramp part of the blade, and the fingers around the handle to make the knife into a useful blunt striking or pressure-compliance tool (think hitting with the flipper, but not stabbing with it).
The thumb ramp is not jimped because that isn't necessary. I honestly don't know if the knife passed MBC rating standards, but the ramping is definitely along those lines. It is easier to add jimping aftermarket than remove it well, so there you go. Again, I like to think of this as a martial arts and crafts knife. It still retains the ability to open bottles, although the smoothing of the lock-bar contact makes for better ergos, it costs some ability to open a bottle in one fell swoop. It takes me two to three pries to open a bottle with the back of the blade's thumb ramp and handle acting as a bottle opener in the closed position.
The surprising thing for me is how often I hold it unconventionally yet comfortably. One of my favorite grips places my pointer finger along the back of the blade with my thumb in the opening hole, and the point of my middle finger in the Perrin hole with the rest of my fingers trailing down the handle. In this grip, it is competent at a lot of fleshing-like, and fine-point activities. It is surprisingly capable at fine tuning. Now that I have a few in hand, I'm going to regrind one to wharnie to see how fine-tuned it is for whittling and other activities. I like my bellied one for a lot of stuff because I don't have to put it down to safely pick other things up due to the Perrin hole and outward blade angle.
In the end, I hope you like the knife, but I know that I love it. It wouldn't hurt my feelings if the knife is unpopular, and it wouldn't hurt your chances of seeing some of the other stuff coming out of my shop if the knife catches on. If it is unpopular at first, my stack of them will skyrocket in value in a few years, so..... I'm just happy Spyderco took the risk and made the knife. Mostly, I make Japanese style knives and swords for me, my friends, and my family, but I have a few *conventionally-better-looking* folding designs in the pipes - chiefly a gentleman's hawkbill. At this point though, I have the Spyderco of my dreams. I got my free copy of the knife for designing it - Spyderco gave me a free knife designed for me and made by them. It was probably the best day at the mailbox. I couldn't have asked for a better company to help me make my knife dream come true.
With that said, I really want to thank Spyderco for going out onto a limb here. I really want to thank Sal for taking me seriously when I approached him about doing this properly once I had a concrete idea. I contacted him on these boards.
I want to thank Eric for seeing merit in the idea and designs, and offering honest, frank feedback about what worked and did not work about each iteration. I want to thank some relatively unsung heroes of Spyderco - Peter and Roque for pushing this through prototyping. I want to thank Rebecca for being awesome at getting me behind the Spyderco curtain. I want to thank Joyce for introducing me to a huge number of other collaborators and showing me around behind the industry curtain. I would like to thank the workers at the factory in Japan producing them for doing such a good job on an unconventional design. I would like to thank Ed for shaking his head at me while I fawned over monosteel, and telling me that most of the prototypes he gives to Spyderco are in un-etched damascus because that's what classy knifemakers do. Thanks for starting me down that path...
This board is great because Spyderco clearly takes you seriously as consumers, and even sometimes designers. It takes thought and effort, but it has happened before and will most likely happen again. I hope you give it a shot.